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From the Editor - Tom Hawrylko

Cars zoom by Ed Schweighardt’s Luddington Ave home. Some come off Paulison then cut down Seventh for a short cut to Route 46. Others just speed from Paulison to the stop sign at Third Ave. Traffic never seems to stop. Last month, Ed moved his car from one side of the road to the other. After turning it off, he stopped, sat and listened to the radio. Next thing...Boom! A young driver smashed the driver’s side. If Ed had exited the car a second earlier we would have photographed him in a hospital bed instead of on his well groomed lawn. So what can be done? “I’m not asking for anything,” said Ed, a retired union plumber “Just telling you the way it is. I just hope no one gets hurt. ” Despite the non-stop traffic, Ed said he’s got great neighbors and still loves the town he was born in 87 years ago. Starting on page 22, read dozens more comments from folks like Ed which tell of the problems and celebrates the good stuff in our annual Soul of the City project. 16,000 Magazines

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The Clifton Boys & Girls Club’s 6th Annual Car, Truck & Motorcycle Show on Sept. 8 set records with over 450 vehicles on display and over 6,000 visitors. Held at the Allwood Atrium, hundreds of volunteers made the event run smoothly. DJ Nick at Nite and Swingman & the Misfit-Mutts provided the soundtrack. The show’s goal is to raise funds for Club programs, so thanks to the exhibitors, volunteers, sponsors and attendees who helped make the event a success. Five pages of photos follow...

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October 2019 • Cliftonmagazine.com


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Candace Mariso

Frank Kasper

By Charles Timm

Childhood without the Boys and Girls During her 20-year involveClub is not an easy thing to picture ment, Mariso has seen the Club for Hall of Fame inductee Canchange. dace Mariso. “Membership has definite“I can’t imagine what I ly grown, as have the size and would have been doing,” the scale of the programs. The 26-year-old Google tech repool was downstairs. cruiter said. “I was fortunate Times are different— that my parents were both children have a difworking full-time. They both ferent exposure to had jobs. It was a very busy the Club.” family. I had time to learn soBut some things cial skills and life skills that I have stayed the would not have gotten sitting same. at home.” “The mission,” Born in Jersey City, Mariso she said. “I don’t feel went to kindergarten in Clifthat has ever changed. ton. “We moved when I was, The kids, keeping them maybe, 4,” she said. safe, keeping them Originally in the Club’s happy. The variety of Kindercare afterschool program, the programs. It’s comshe still remembers her earliest fortable and exciting guides, Patty Lavender and Mary [place] to go to.” Jo Anzaldi. These days, Mariso “Miss Patty and Miss A. doesn’t work at the Club were my teachers. I still see but attends all the fundHOF inductees Candace Mariso and Frank Kasper them.” raising events. At 6, Mariso discovered “The main way that swimming at the Club. I still contribute,” she said, “is through the interview “I joined the Seahawks, the Boys and Girls Club committee.” team.” Mariso participates in choosing the Club’s Youth of Later, she was in the locker room, helping kids get the Year, something that shows her how the organizaready to come out to the pool. “I was a lifeguard when tion helps today’s children like it helped her. I turned 15,” she said. “I coached the swim team.” “One of the application questions is ‘What have By then, Mariso was seeing history repeat itself. you gotten out of the experience?’ It’s one of the “I was serving children that I once was 10 years things that I’m happy to hear about when I hear from ago. It was a formative time, a staple in my life.” the kids.”

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Mariso lives in the Clinton Ave. house of her childhood, a member of an involved family that includes her sister Monique, dad Richard and mom Beverly. “My sister was Youth of the Year and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. I followed in her footsteps as little sisters often do. We’re a Club family.” When Frank Kasper’s congratulated about being inducted into the Boys and Girls Club Hall of Fame, he’s gracious and humble, replying with a sincere, “Thank you.” It’s not surprising. Kasper, 34, is a giving kind of guy, whose Club journey started nearly 20 years ago. “I began working there in 2000,” he said, “still in high school. They were formative years for me.” Kasper credits the Club with helping him form his character and find his path in life. “It gave me the understanding of how to work and how to give myself a good work ethic. It helped me get organized and focused, and kindled my interest in teaching—essentially starting my teaching career.” After representing the senior class in the CHS Homecoming Court and graduating in 2003, Kasper earned a

bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Penn State and a master’s degree in special education from Montclair State University. “I teach special education in a middle school, children with autism,” he said about his job in Leonia. Kasper is a natural teacher. Of his Club work, he said, “One of the biggest things for me was keeping the kids active, running the gym activities while I was there, and letting them express themselves through art.” This summer, he volunteered at the Clifton Library, instructing children in reading. A lifelong Clifton resident who grew up on Orono St., Kasper’s family includes his late parents, Frank and Jane, and his brother, Mark. It’s clear that the poise Kasper found at the Club is a large part of what he wants others to discover there. “It helps kids find their balance,” he said. “The focus is on a great balance between learning, recreation, and socialization.” In the Boys and Girls Club, Kasper found his favorite charity in Clifton. Besides his other involvements, the Hutton Rd. resident serves as a Clifton Board of Education Commissioner, appointed to several of its committees.

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He adds: “I just joined the Red Hat Angels, which is Clifton’s Relay For Life team.” It’s easy to understand how Frank Kasper was drawn to the Boys and Girls Club of Clifton. “There is so much heart from all of the people who came through there,” he said.” And from the volunteers.” To Bob D’Arco, being inducted into the Boys & Girls Club Hall of Fame means a lot. “I’m kind of breaking up a little bit,” D’Arco said when asked about the honor. “Being recognized is awesome. More so because I’m entering a Hall of Fame with people whom I respect and admire… it’s very special to me.” D’Arco, pictured above, remembers his first time entering the Club in 1961. “I remember having a little trepidation when I first joined,” he said, “but almost immediately, that fear was erased. I made friends. There was a range of activities available—not just Rosario DiDonna got his start in business as a builder with his late father Joseph P. DiDonna. But at age 35, he returned to Montclair State to earn a Masters Degree in School Administration and Supervision. Since that time Rosario has taught 8th grade civics in the Ridgefield School District. With retirement on the horizon, Rosario set his sights on a third career. This summer he passed his real estate test and joined Coldwell Banker in Clifton. “Funny how things come full circle,” said Rosario. “My dad built that building at 789 Clifton Ave. Now thanks to Glynice Coleman, Coldwell’s manager, I’ll be working in that office, helping people make their dreams become a reality.”

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October 2019 • Cliftonmagazine.com

Bobby D’Arco sports—but table games, bumper pool, ping pong, and billiards. “It was a great place to go, make friends and hang out—in a positive way.” That has not changed in D’Arco’s mind. The lessons learned at the Club have stayed with him— through his working career, in politics and now in retirement. “The Club taught me how to be a good teammate, on and off the field or court,” he said. “It prepared me for professional leadership roles and how to interact with people of all backgrounds.” A self-described “Botany Village guy,” D’Arco is the youngest of four children born to parents Joe and Joan. His father was an insurance agent for John Hancock Life Insurance Company; his mother, an office manager for a Passaic plastics company. “My brother Joseph Jr. is actually 17 years older than me,” he said. “My sister Connie, who is deceased, was 15 years older and my other sister Joanne was 11 years older—then came Bobby.” The family lived on Randolph Ave. “My house was in the middle between Nash Park and Botany Park,” he said, “behind Sacred Heart Church.” Growing up, D’Arco was usually involved with sports with friends Jim Jenkins and Mike Duda, and the late Kyle Huziarski and Jimmy Mancinelli. In Nash Park and in the old little Weasel Brook Park between Lakeview and Lexington, they played football, baseball, and D’Arco’s favorite, basketball. “It was a great childhood,” he said. “When I was at Botany Park, as soon as the church bells rang at Sacred Heart at 6 pm, I knew it was time to go home for dinner.” That childhood included his time at the Club where he met lifelong friends Tom DiDonna and Ed Welsh. “There were also people you looked up to who were a bit older than me,” he said, “like Bob Lipala, Bud Clawson and Vic De Luca.


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“Jack Marshall was another guy I admired. I remember saying when I was in about seventh grade, that’s the way I want to play basketball. I actually tried to model my game after his.” D’Arco remembers many basketball games in the Club’s gym, sometimes crashing into the old stage after a hard foul. His friends there included Jimmy McGuire, Dale Oostdyk and Drew Corrzzi, and the group would sometimes drive from the Club to other playgrounds, seeking out tougher competition. “I had my driver’s license,” D’Arco said. “Afterwards, we always ended up at the Hot Grill.” D’Arco also learned about serving others at the Club, helping out with the younger basketball teams as a statistician. More community service lessons came from his father, a former Clifton Board of Adjustment chairman and Passaic County freeholder. In 1972, D’Arco graduated Clifton High and went on to earn a degree from Florida’s Biscayne College (now St. Thomas University). He went on to a 30-year human resources career with various companies, as well as the Passaic County Sheriff’s Dept. before an injury disability forced him to retire. In his hometown, D’Arco never stopped being involved. He has served on the Board of Education, Planning Board, Rent Leveling Board and was Library Board president. He is a former board member of the Clifton Stallions Soccer Club and past Little League and CYO basketball coach. In addition, D’Arco is known for managing Jim Anzaldi’s campaigns since the longtime Clifton mayor’s start in politics.

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“It’s been 40-plus years,” he said. “It’s unbelievable—a lifetime. And it seems like it just started. A lot of people go through life and don’t have the kind of friendship that Jim and I have. I’m proud to say that he’s my best friend. He was my best man in my wedding and my daughter’s godfather. It’s like having a second brother. “We talk every day. We don’t always agree but it’s a very special, unique relationship—one that I’m blessed with and cherish.” Married to wife Patty, the D’Arcos live in Clifton Center. “Patty is also from Botany,” he said. “When my father forced me to get my first job as a playground director, they gave me School 12. My wife and one of her girlfriends came to check out the new director… and the rest is history.” The couple has been together for 47 years and married for 36. They have two children—daughter Melissa, who married husband Nahon in May (Mayor Anzaldi performed the wedding ceremony), and son RJ, who is married to wife Jen. They also have two grandchildren, Gianluca, 7, and Rosalia, 4. “I’ve been fortunate,” D’Arco said, “to have lived a pretty good life. I feel strongly that the Club environment helped me want to volunteer and become involved in community service.” The 13th annual “Fall Into the Past” beefsteak celebrates the lives and achievements of outstanding B&G Club alumni­­(each representing a decade), former members who have contributed a great deal to the Clifton organization and believe in its mission and purpose. Tickets are $40 and include dinner, beer, wine and soda. For information or tickets, call John DeGraaf at 973-773-0966, Ex. 111.


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By Tom Hawrylko

When 100 Marching Mustangs paraded down Van Houten Ave. on Sept. 15, spectators oohed and aahed and quickly made way for the “Showband of the Northeast.” The Mustangs’ entrance was just another highlight at the annual Van Houten Ave. Street Fair, Clifton’s “must-attend” event. The fair also featured jousting by knights, live music by the Misfit Mutts, dancing in the streets, a classic car show, dozens of food vendors and thousands of people. That’s why our team of reporters were at the Van Houten Ave. Street Fair (they also conducted interviews across the city). On the following pages, read residents’ opinions on what’s great and what needs improving in Clifton. 22 

October 2019 • Cliftonmagazine.com

Interviews by: Jack De Vries Arianna Puzzo Charles Timm


Gina Corradino “Clifton is a family,” said Gina Corradino. “We all take care of each other.” Corradino, like many of her classmates, never left Clifton. She is a CHS Class of ’85 graduate and said she still speaks with school friends. It is the bond Clifton residents share, she said, that keeps her in her hometown. At the Van Houten Ave. Street Fair are (from left) Councilman Ray “We don’t go far,” Corradino said. “We Grabowski, Raffaella Selvaggio, Mayor Jim Anzaldi and Gina Corradino. stay together.” Things have changed around the city, “Grande Saloon is still here, that’s nostalgic for us,” though. The trees she remembers from her childhood she said with a grin. are no longer here, Corradino said. There are also busiToday, she is a legal marketing director at Corradino nesses that are long gone. and Papa, LLC, located at 935 Allwood Rd. The per“[Rowe Manse Emporium] used to be an awesome sonal injury law firm presented Clifton’s Boys & Girls store. It’s not there anymore,” Corradino said. “There used Club with $100,000 in 2018 for the purchase of two to be Rick’s Pub on the corner; it’s now a Walgreen’s. A new school buses. lot has changed in that sense since growing up.” “The Boys & Girls Club definitely is a place where Familiar weekend hangouts still exist, and these we all grew up,” Corradino said. “We like to give back hangouts are also what make Clifton great. to the community.”

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Kathleen Holzli

Kim Dunham said there should be more activities for kids. “Just a pool,” she said. “This huge town and the [Recreation Department] doesn’t have a pool. I don’t have one at home and you have to have a membership.”

There’s lots to like about Clifton for Kathleen Holzi. “I’ve lived here my whole life for the most part,” she said. “I like the feel of the town, I like the things that they offer, I like the diversity. I also like the events.” Still, Holzi said there is still room for improvement. “Some people don’t seem to take pride in their homes, streets and neighborhood. You bought a house, take some pride. … and get to know your neighbors!”

“There are some situations,” said Liz Ille about the Clifton school district, “where there are a lot of stories about kids who need special ed and aren’t receiving special ed. I was fortunate... and after a lot of going back and forth, they were able to see my point. “There are a lot of other friends who need help out there. So, just a lot of kids who need special ed programs.” Ille believes advocacy is important. “You need to speak up,” she said, “otherwise your kid isn’t going to be able to be represented, and that

seems to be where it is. You know your kid needs help, and it comes to a point where you know they need help and you keep telling people, ‘Listen, I’m not making it up. They need something,’ and then it just takes so long.” Ille feels the district needs to take a closer look at special ed programs. “They need to re-look,” she said. “They need to revamp some of the stuff. There are kids who are struggling, and they’re not really helping them through their struggle. I was fortunate enough—there are others who are not that fortunate.”

Kim Dunham

Liz Ille

Joe Seiple A big fan of the city, Joe Seiple likes much about his hometown. “I like everything,” Seiple said. “The band, the shows like this [at the Van Houten Ave. Street Fair], the parades. It definitely [builds a community]. “I think the city’s run by capable people,” he said. “It’s good. It’s a nice quiet city. It’s crime free, [it has] beautiful areas. Everything you see tells you how great Clifton is.”

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John Pierson A 25-year Clifton resident living in the Allwood section, John Pierson has a definite opinion about what he likes in Clifton. “The best thing,” Pierson said, “is the Clifton Mustang Band that my son played in. He played in it from 2009 to 2013.” Pierson also enjoys the city’s diversity and his street. “I like my quiet little neighborhood,” he said. As far as improving in the city, Pierson said, “The road construction is a problem, along with the over development and overcrowding.”


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Jamie Zarrett and Debbie Dubravsky Jamie Zarrett and Debbie Dubravsky watched the day unfold on Sept. 15 at the Van Houten Ave. Street Fair. The Clifton residents have both lived in the city for over a decade and said that they have seen a change. “I think it’s become more diverse, honestly,” said Dubravsky, a former resident of Rochelle Park. Dubravsky has lived in Clifton for 15 years. Zarrett agreed and said she loves the city’s diversity. She has lived in Clifton for 11 years and is a proud School 5 parent. Still, she worries about the middle and high schools. “I hear a lot of bad things about the high school,” said Zarrett, who came from New York City. “Too many kids. Gangs, drugs. I think they need to build another high school.

“We’re considering moving out before high school,” she added. Despite overcrowding, Zarrett’s said the school features good programs. “The one thing I like about CHS is they started where you could earn a two-year college degree,” Zarrett said. “That’s a good thing.”

Kevin Gorman

with his daughter Alysia What does Kevin Gorman like about Clifton? “The street fairs like [Van Houten Ave.’s] do a lot for us,” he said. “It gets the community out. Clifton’s got a lot of good things. In my opinion, we’ve got a great mayor. We’ve got a really good City Council. Now, they work together finally doing things.”

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Gorman acknowledges Clifton has also changed. “When I was a kid,” he said. “Van Houten Ave. was just bars. [There were] more people, more bars, but all the laws and everything—the bars are dropping a dime a dozen. [The diversity] is also good, as long as everybody can keep getting along. “We’re neighbors, we should all get along like Cliftonites are known to do.”


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Keith and Gaye Miller Gaye and Keith Miller support their hometown. “I was born here,” Gaye said, “and remained here after I got married. It’s very diverse, and it has a lot of different stores.” Her husband Keith is grateful for Clifton schools. “We love the school system,” he said. “Our daughter went all the way through. She went to School 5, Woodrow Wilson, and then CHS, where she was a drum majorette. Now, she attends Col-

Kathleen Kellaigh Kathleen Kellaigh and husband, Joel Robertson are co-founders of Action Theatre Conservatory, the widely-regarded school for the performing arts located on Union Ave. “I love Clifton’s diversity,” she said. “One of my joyful memories is walking into School 14 when my children were there for International Day and seeing offerings from 34 different ethnicities! A great way for children to grow and learn.” Kellaigh’s school has been “the creative nest” for Rachel Zegler (now “Maria” in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story), Federico Castelluccio (The Sopranos), Nina Arianda (Tony winner) and other artists. “Running a business in the downtown Clifton area,” she said, “it is so easily accessible by driving and public transportation. Love having NJ Transit to NYC so

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lege of New Jersey as a music major. As far as improving the city, Keith said, “Overall, we love Clifton. My biggest drawback is the streets are in such poor condition. It seems like every time they repair a street, they dig it up within six months and it’s ruined again. It just seems like it’s money being wasted. There never seems to be a decision between whether it’s a city street or a county street. It seems unfair that they’re in such poor condition.” accessible. Love being in easy driving distance to NYC.” Kellaigh and her husband moved to Clifton in 1990 from New York City, wanting their infant son to be raised where he could have a yard to play in, Little League down the road, decent schools, and a better environment than the concrete and congestion of the city. “We opened ATC in the same year,” Kellaigh said, “operating out of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and moving to the Standard Elevator building in 1993.” Through ATC, Kellaigh and Robertson have worked with many local organizations. They reside in the city’s Oak Ridge section. For what can be improved, Kellaigh would like to see the city create a performing arts center in Downtown Clifton or somewhere else. “Having such a center revitalizes any area,” she said.


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Susan Zwiazek

Chris Opperman “Clifton is a beautiful town,” said Chris Opperman, a composer, musician and artist who continued in his note, “featuring a core caring community with proud traditions. It also features teachers who deeply care about their students, lovely libraries and parks, and a deep appreciation for both the arts and for athletics. There is always something interesting to do in Clifton.”

Rosemary Pino “The greatest part about Clifton,” said first-term Councilwoman Rosemary Pino, “is the multiplicity of cultures throughout our community and our city’s ability to come together and celebrate. “We honor so many nationalities and their traditions through many events like parades and flag-raising ceremonies,” she said. “Clifton does an amazing job at recognizing our incredibly diverse community. It’s a special quality, making Clifton a wonderful place to live.” She also noted the city has its challenges. “Being among the top 10 largest cities in New Jersey with over 80,000 people and little room to expand, it can strain our schools, roads, infrastructure and commerce centers,” Pino said. “Our citizens have great accessibility to outlets and platforms to express concerns with city administration and officials—either personally, on our web site or by attending city council or specific board-related meetings. They can also volunteer for many city related groups and organizations. We’ll be presenting Town Forums that I encourage everyone to participate in.”

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“Clifton is a great town,” remarked Susan Zwiazek. “My husband Al grew up here and we settled here when we got married. My boys, Alex and Kyle went through the Clifton school system. Both went on to great colleges and successful careers. There’s always something to do. The Recreation Department runs numerous classes and special events. There are street fairs and flea markets. Sports and the arts are available for all ages and abilities.” Zwiazek only negative about Clifton? “Congestion,” she said. “Too much traffic and over development.”

Ellen Kiraly Longtime resident Ellen Kiraly knows her hometown. “I have lived at my current address for the past 53 years,” Kiraly said. “My husband and I bought the home because of its location between our two families in Passaic and Paterson, and also because my husband’s business was centered around Passaic, Clifton and Montclair.” A painter and paperhanger, Julius Kiraly had many longtime clients in the area. “The school system was very good,” Ellen continued, “and our children attended School 12 , Christopher Columbus and Clifton High. I was very fortunate to begin my teaching career in 1961 at the old high school and still see colleagues from that time.” Ellen likes that Clifton is centrally located and easily accessible to NYC, the Jersey Shore and the malls. “As population increases,” she said, “so does traffic. The areas have expanded and so have neighborhoods. Many old-timers have either passed or moved out of the area because of health issues, taxes and other expenses that cannot be met on a fixed income.” However, for those remaining, Kiraly said, “There are many activities and clubs that one can join. It’s up to the individual to choose what they like. “Like many citizens, I have minor gripes. I am, most of the time, very content living in Clifton.”


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Helen Berkenbush For one Botany Village resident, her biggest gripe about Clifton is plain and simple. “It’s parking,” said Helen Berkenbush. “On the north side of Ackerman Ave. (Clifton Ave. side) and various side streets, there are two-, threeand multiple-family homes, from houses to apartment buildings. In some houses, as across the street from me, there are 10 cars for a two-family house. It’s so tight! It’s a shame that churches on Clifton Ave., that back

Dr. William G. Weiss appreciates the support he gets from Clifton. “I have worked at the North Jersey Elks Developmental Disabilities Agency for 41 years and Clifton has always been supportive. The mayors, city departments—you name it—police, fire, EMTs, building, economic development, health, all respond quickly and work with us to protect and help the children and adults.”

Ihor Andruch “I hate to sound pollyannish,” said Ihor Andruch, “but when I see things like the PRAISE group who runs a Sunday afternoon baseball league at Maplewood Park for kids with disabilities, it’s a good feeling. There are volunteers, peer buddies and lots of people making it happen.” Another thing Andruch likes is the city’s location. “Clifton is a great place to live,” he said, “as it is central to everything—NYC, Upstate New York, beaches, etc. While sometimes it gets a bad rap, there are things that go on in Clifton that really remind you that we have

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Harrison and Sherman Pls., could not be encouraged to provide parking for a fee. “Something really needs to be done. A few weeks ago, PSE&G came through with new gas lines. They left a broken machine behind and a load of backfill on Harrison near the corner of Sherman. The broken machine was finally removed last week but the load of backfill (occupying two-and-a half parking places) is still there after almost a month. “I have begged City Hall to have it removed to provide those needed spaces but the dirt still sits. H&M is the company. Plus, we try to have dialogue with drivers to pull up into a parking place and leave room for another car in front or behind you. Some people get very agitated—saying in essence, ‘I pay rent around here, too’ and pay little attention. “This is my current and ongoing concern. The area is trying to keep itself neat for a very tight area, but parking is a real trial.”

Dr. William G. Weiss Weiss also thanked local businesses like TD Bank, Corrado’s, M&T Bank, CVS, Clifton members of North Jersey Chamber of Commerce and many others. “Clifton remains a wonderful city,” he said, “with friendly people and a big heart for those less fortunate.”

a lot to offer—from great restaurants and businesses that know your name when you enter, to a variety of community events. “Volunteers also make Clifton great. They include those who dedicate their time to coaching youth sports to others who coordinate meaningful events that bring us together, such as the September 11 event at City Hall.” Though positive about the city, Andruch knows Clifton has its issues. “The traffic needs to be addressed,” he said. “It takes 30 minutes to get from one side of town to the other. Taxes are also higher than they should be. For the rates we pay, we should have a community pool to turn to on those hot summer days.”


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So... A priest walks into an ice cream parlor...

Rev. Mike Weber with Emilia Krasowska at Carvel Ice Cream.

By Rev. Mike Weber I went to the ice cream parlor the other night to get ice cream sundaes for my wife and myself. The store was crowded with other families seeking cold, sweet pleasure on a warm evening. I wish I had a camera so that I could show you what I saw. In front of me was a young man who looked to be in his early 20s. His hair was light brown, cut short with a neatly trimmed beard. His white yarmulke trimmed with a lavender border and was fastened to his head by two silver hair clips. His girlfriend had long dark hair with slightly unruly curls tinted with dark red highlights. He was wearing a Rutgers T-Shirt so I struck up a conversation with him and discovered that his name was Donnie. Both he and his girlfriend were seniors at Rutgers. We had a delightful conversation while we waited for our ice cream to be served. Behind us at the corner table was a Muslim family of six with children ranging from middle school to college age. The father looked to be in his early 50s. As he leaned back in his chair with his hands folded across his middle-aged belly, he looked every bit the part of a proud and contented papa. The most striking thing about this family, however, was the mother. She wore a long, shamrock-green dress and a white, full-length jacket that had rows of buttons down the front. Her hijab was made of the same fabric as the dress and jacket and accented her striking green eyes. She sat surrounded by her husband and children, and was clearly the bright, emotional center of her family.

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At the next table sat three Latinas, spanning three generations—a grandmother in her early 50s, her daughter in her 30s and a granddaughter who looked to be 10 or 11. If the mother was the center of the Muslim family, the granddaughter was the center of the Latina family. She sat between the two older women who were pouring their lives into her, the youngest generation of their family. And then there was me, a 65-year-old pastor running an errand of love for his wife. As I looked around the store, I saw a vision of what Martin Luther called, “the beloved community”—people from diverse backgrounds living together in respect and harmony. That evening we were brought together by three things—the hot summer weather, our love of ice cream and our desire to share love with our families. This is why I love Clifton, the place where I currently live and serve. Here I find people of different backgrounds united in their pursuit of the American dream. Our ethnic, cultural and religious differences, along with our common shared respect for one another, are what make America exceptional. I am proud to be a part of a community that evidences all that is good about America. May God help us to live into our highest principles! May God help us to embrace our neighbors and celebrate our differences! May God bless America and all her peoples. (Hope to see you at the ice cream parlor.) Rev. Mike Weber has been the pastor at United Reformed Church of Clifton, 352 Clifton Ave., for the past 10 years. He loves Clifton, ice cream and his six grandchildren.


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Barbara Baker When Barbara Baker’s ancestors left Holland and came to Acquackanonk Township among the Dutch settlers, they could not have anticipated what the city would look like in 2019. Baker, 69, is the fourth generation of her family to live in what became Clifton. She has also seen changes over

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the years—some for the better and some for worse. “It’s so convenient to everything,” the Albion resident said. “We have so much shopping, you can get to any highway, the city, anywhere.” Baker not only continued the tradition of raising her family here, but worked in Clifton schools for 26 years. At one point, she considered moving, but living in the same home for 45 years and raising her children in Clifton kept her in the city. “It’s hard to leave a town,” Baker said, “especially when you grew up here.” There are some downfalls and they are largely to do with the city’s population. Crowds during the schools’ start and dismissal times, or roads that are paved and sometimes dug up, can make getting around difficult at times. There is also an increase in stores along the highway (including great stores like Old Navy coming to the city, she added) but not enough parking. However, one of Baker’s primary concerns is senior housing. When Baker’s mother looked for senior housing years ago, she had to wait five years before getting into Evergreen Manor off Van Houten Ave. Since then, two new places were built, but Baker still worries about how difficult they are to get into for seniors. “When people need housing, there’s just really nowhere to go other than more expensive apartments,” Baker said. “I know a friend who waited for years to get in [senior housing] and she didn’t, and she did have to leave the town, which she did not want to do. The wait list is just too long.” Still, Baker considers Clifton to be home. One thing she hopes to see is the continuation of school programs outside of the classroom. “[We need] all the arts and music and sports for kids because that’s just so important,” Baker said.


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Nilda Rivera Allwood resident Nilda Rivera moved to Clifton some 45 years ago—thanks to an intervention by a famous former resident. “The only reason we came to Clifton was [my husband] Joe was boxing at that time and his manager Lou Duva was from here,” said Rivera, 68. “I’ve always had my sights set on Clifton and returning,” said Reaman Mustafa. An English as a second language teacher at School 14, Mustafa moved to Clifton in 1994 for a year and a half. She left for several years before returning with her family 17 years ago. Along with its convenient location, one thing that made Mustafa gravitate toward Clifton is its diversity. She noted that neighboring communities, like South Paterson where the is an Arabic community, added to the city’s appeal. Clifton, itself, is also headed in “a very good direction” for diversity, she added. The change is evident to her through her role as an ESL teacher where she witnesses the immigration process firsthand and notices the migrating patterns of communities. “We’re doing a good job in Clifton,” Mustafa said, “at keeping [immigrant] students engaged, active and promoting assimilation where they’re introduced to other groups and they’re interfacing with other groups.” Although Mustafa is glad to see how resources for students have improved over the years, one thing she hopes to see increase is how many students engage “in after school programs.”

Over those five decades, Clifton evolved and Rivera and her family did, too. “I’m definitely glad we came here,” she said. “I loved bringing my kids up in a good environment.” Clifton was a much more homogeneous town back before 1980. “Now, it’s better because of the different cultures, but in those early years it was difficult [to be Hispanic]. Today in the schools, there’s different cultures, different languages, and diversity is accepted.” The issue, she said, can be that students attending magnet schools need to travel further to get home. As a result, participating in academic activities at night can be difficult if they are bused to school. When asked what else she would like to see change in Clifton, she mentioned her hope for more community events. The Tank Pull and the City Hall flag-raisings are existing events that Mustafa considers “amazing.” “We have people coming from all over the state to attend those flag raising ceremonies, but that’s specific to their culture,” Mustafa said. “I would like to see something that involves everyone holistically, all the cultures, so that they can kind of learn from one another and interface and just develop the whole community.” So, how would she describe Clifton in one word? “A mosaic,” said Mustafa, after a pause. “That’s what I would describe it as, especially in this day and age where everything is so politically fueled. “We have been very good about keeping our wits about us and just kind of doing what’s necessary for the students, for the communities. I’m very proud of what I do,” Mustafa added with a smile.

Reaman Mustafa

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October 2019 • Cliftonmagazine.com


With Great Pride, We Recognize the Clifton Office’s Highest Achievers. July 2019 Award January 2018 AwardWinners Winners

Alma Billings Louis ‘Lou’ Wnek

Top Lister Top Lister

Tiana Calandro Alma Billings Top Sales Top Sales

Tiana Calandro Alma Billings

Top Producer Top Producer

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Patricia Patricia ‘Patty’ Badia “Patty” Badia

TopLister Lister Top

Patricia Beryl Bells “Patty” Badia

TopSales Sales Top

Patricia Patricia ‘Patty’ Badia “Patty” Badia

Top Producer Producer Top

Patricia Louis ‘Lou’ Wnek “Patty” Badia

Hilda Ferro Madelaine ‘Madi’ Ferro

Patricia Madelaine ‘Madi’ Ferro “Patty” Badia

Sheryl Madonna Corinne Alesi Quinn

Agent Agent of ofthe theMonth Month

Agent of Agent of the the Month Month

Weichert Pride Weichert Pride

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are some of our current homes on the market... MarchHere 2018 Award Winners

Alma Billings

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Patricia “Patty” Badia

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April 2018 Award Winners

Alma Billings

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Patricia “Patty” Badia

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Patricia “Patty” Badia

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Cliftonmagazine.com • October 2019  Cliftonmagazine.com • June 2018

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Eli Castro Eli Castro and his wife Wendy are owners of the Dollar Zone at the intersection of Huron and Van Houten Aves. Their store has been open for three years, and they live nearby in the Athenia section. “The people are nice and generous around here,” said Eli Castro. “Family oriented. We love to serve the people that come in here—they’re beautiful. It’s been good with the customer base. The parks in Clifton are pretty good, too.” Castro’s only complaint is city road construction. “It’s always constant,” he said, “never stops. It’s all yearround. I don’t have any other complaints besides the construction.”

Howard Scheikowitz Howard Scheikowitz did not grow up in Clifton, but his roots run deep. The Downtown Clifton optician operates his business, Creative Eyewear, at 1187 Main Ave. He has worked out of the office for the last 22 years, moving everything over from his Garfield office, where he worked for 43 years. Although Scheikowitz, 77, grew up in Paterson, his mother grew up in Botany Village on Dayton Ave. after her family moved from New York around 1912. So, when Scheikowitz decided to move to Clifton 39 years ago, he knew the city. “I liked the area because I was familiar with it,” said Scheikowitz. “I spent a lot of time in Clifton visiting my grandparents.” Incidentally, his grandparents also owned Delancy’s Men’s Shop, located at 228 Dayton Ave., which stayed in business for 75 years. The shop was yet another classic example of Clifton’s legacy as a city of convenience. For Scheikowitz, and many others, convenience was crucial.

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“Clifton is a town of many conveniences and services,” Scheikowitz agreed. “It is centrally located to many different highways and street-ways... as well as the businesses.” Although the convenience of the city has not faltered, Scheikowitz feels that the city and surrounding area is becoming noticeably overbuilt. The construction, he feels, makes way for congestion and “takes away a quality of life” and a sense of personal space. “I’m more of a naturalist and I think that they are taking away too much of our green places,” said Scheikowitz. “I think [the congestion] makes people be more on edge. “In that way, it actually changes people’s personality and makes them less patient and less considerate,” he added. There are two groups, though, that Scheikowitz believes need to be given more thanks for their unfaltering service to the growing city. “We absolutely need to thank our police and fire department,” said Scheikowitz. “These are two great services.”


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Andrea Icaza “During the journey is when you get brave,” said Andrea Icaza. “You never get brave prior to the journey.” Icaza’s journey in Clifton began 13 years ago. She and her family were looking at towns with strong schools because with four kids, schools were a priority. What attracted them to Clifton was the district’s curriculum organization. The district’s special education department also confirmed to Icaza, 41, that they had made the right decision. “The school district started to work with me when my son was diagnosed with autism and that makes a big difference,” Icaza said. The Lakeview family sent all their boys to School 11. There, Icaza got involved volunteering and eventually became the Home and School Association president. There were five years where she was heavily involved, she said. Icaza realized then that many people who asked her to do certain things either did not voice their concerns or were unaware about the school. “It’s not the job of the superintendent, nor the principal, nor the teacher to come and hold your hand and say, ‘Hey, I really want you to get involved and look into these issues. Do you know the budget? Do you know how they’re spending the money?’” said Icaza. “Nobody’s going to do that. You’ve got to do it on your own.”

Gerard Scorziello Gerard Scorziello, a lifelong Clifton resident, works as a financial advisor for Wells Fargo. He and wife Kim enjoy exploring the many great restaurants in town. Residing in the Richfield section, they are parents to two grown children, Katie and Kevin. Scorziello shared there are “lots of things” to like about Clifton. “We can get to Manhattan, the beach, the country, all within an hour’s drive. Great restaurants, both in town and in neighboring towns. Clifton offers the best of New Jersey.” Scorziello also appreciates the people.

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Getting involved in the HSA was one way she learned what the school received and what it needed. She learned about Lakeview driving through Clifton. Doing that made Icaza more aware of what she wanted to see changed, or rather what she wanted to see become the same. One thing she noticed is that the greenery is “not as updated as the other parts of the town.” Another discrepancy: bicycle lanes. “If you drive from Broad St. then you notice [there are bicycle lanes],” said Icaza. “What?… Our kids don’t drive bicycles? Because we’re close to Paterson and Passaic?” Another benefit of serving on an HSA is that you work directly with the families, so there is an ability to identify the demographics around the city, Icaza said. Social media has changed the way people engage, Icaza added. When she moved to Clifton over a decade ago, it was a “closer, more active community,” where action was taken by people going to meetings. Now, Icaza worries about young people becoming more isolated and people sharing concerns only through Facebook statuses. She maintains that she loves her community and feels connected with her neighborhood. “I don’t have any family other than my husband and my kids, and my husband’s family, which I love, but I was adopted by these neighbors,” said Icaza. “They turned into be my family.” “We live in the Richfield section and have the most amazing neighbors. A lot of people have a tremendous amount of pride in this town. The Clifton Animal Shelter does amazing work and the volunteers are so dedicated and caring.” Scorziello would also like to see city improvements. “Clifton doesn’t have sufficient political representation in the county or state. For a city as large as Clifton, that is unacceptable. Our schools are terrific and both of my children were well served in the public schools. My complaint is only that our school district doesn’t do enough to promote themselves and the great accomplishments (including a lot of representation in Ivy League colleges).


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Ricky Rivera

Joan Hilsinger

Ricky Rivera is a 25-year resident and a Cub Scout leader for Pack 21. He has two children, 8 and 1, and lives in the Maple Valley section. “I like the community feel of Clifton,” he said. “I like the diversity in the town and everything they have available for the children. The Rec Center and the Little League programs are also good. I’m involved in that.” While Rivera would like to see even more activities for children, he has only one compliant about Clifton: “I don’t like that light they put on Valley Road. It makes my commute a little bit longer.”

Resident Joan Hilsinger appreciates much about her hometown of Clifton. “I was brought up here,” she said. “I like the school system and my parents lived here. I just like it.” Hilsinger’s children all attended Clifton schools. “My kids all went through the school system,” she said, “my granddaughter, too. My daughter is a teacher at the high school. I liked the teachers, and I always had a lot of fun with the students. A lot of kids, we made friends and I just liked everybody.” While she is optimistic about the city, she does note Clifton has changed. “We used to hang out at the park—Main Memorial Park,” Hilsinger said. “That was a big hangout place. I

don’t see [kids today having these hangouts]. I don’t see that anymore.” She’s also seen changes in her Allwood section neighborhood. “We moved here in 1970,” she said. “We’ve been here a long time. It was good here—the kids all had something to do. They had something to play. Can you imagine; they played in the street? They played baseball in the street. You also don’t see anybody roller-skating anymore.” As far as what she wants to see improved, Hilsinger said, “I like everything the way it is now. I have no problem with the way things are now. Jimmy Anzaldi is mayor—I love him.”

One of the first things Doreen Liebhauser noticed about her Richfield neighborhood was the grove of mature trees. “We’re lucky with this area,” Liebhauser said. “The trees actually have pretty color flowers in the spring.” The neighborhood’s aesthetic was a large appeal when she and her husband decided to move to Clifton from Montclair. The couple was not ready to live in a condo, but a small home and little property were exactly what they wanted. That is why she was immediately drawn to the ranches.“I specifically wanted a ranch because I have sciatica and arthritis,” Liebhauser said. “Clifton’s the only town I found that had so many ranches around here.” The conveniences like access to grocery stores were also appealing, she added. However, quick investors

coming into neighborhoods and turning houses over after building the ranches into mansions disappointed Liebhauser. “Aesthetically, it ruins the sight,” Liebhauser said. “We’re really lucky, we can see Yogi Berra Stadium from our back, and you can see the fireworks... but if they put up another mansion around the corner, I won’t be able to see it anymore.” Liebhauser said seeing the neighborhood now would have likely changed her mind on moving here, but considers herself fortunate to be “living in a nice middle-class neighborhood. “I think Clifton represents the American way with its population,” she said. “I still don’t know all of Clifton, but I’m very happy with the people that I know who reside in my neighborhood and represent the town.”

Doreen Liebhauser

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Cliftonmagazine.com • October 2019 

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Dominick Villano I have been a Clifton resident for approximately 15 years and affiliated with the City of Clifton for nearly 40 years. I’ve been a City employee for 10 years, but am writing this opinion as a Clifton resident, not as a City employee. In my opinion, Clifton is a hidden gem in suburbia New York City, nestled between the cities of Paterson and Passaic. It offers many attributes with less problems as compared to our neighboring municipalities. Clifton is one of the most diverse and cultural cities in New Jersey; it is truly the essence of a melting pot. This diversity brings a variety of customs and traditions, great ethnic foods, and interesting people. These are people who take pride in ownership, give back to their community, have strong family values, and have a strong commitment to volunteerism. It’s close proximity to New York City offers easy access to major airports and seaports. Combined with an elaborate rail and interstate roadway system, Clifton

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has evolved into a mercantile hub. Residents can travel or commute to and from New York City via buses, trains, jitney buses, ferries and car services, and there is a heliport landing area at the former Hoffman La Roche site. Clifton has over 40 parks and recreational facilities, and offers extensive and varied programs of sports, hobbies, adult activities, and passive recreational activities. We have one of the best school systems, comprised of both public and private schools. Many of our high school students are accepted to some of the nation’s best universities, including Ivy League schools. Although Clifton is a city of 85,000-plus people, it has all of the amenities and conveniences of a small town. Properties have maintained their values, in spite of recent economic challenges, with a less than 2 percent foreclosure rate. Clifton also maintains a less than 2 percent vacancy rate on commercial and industrial properties, making it a preferred location for investors. The city features a stable economy while affording the residents a full line of municipal services. Most recently, Clifton received a bond rating of AA/ Positive from Standard & Poor’s Global Rating. During the past 10 years, Clifton has invested millions in improving its infrastructure, roadway system, parks, and municipal buildings. Clifton has also experienced an overall decline in the crime rate. This can be attributed to a dedicated and outstanding police department. As with other cities that are similar in size and population, Clifton has its share of problems, such as congestion, homelessness and increased cost of services, payroll and employee benefits. These challenges are a focus of the governing body and administration. We are hopeful that with assistance from our State legislators we can curtail or address these issues in the near future. Although I was not born or raised in Clifton, I am a resident. I love everything this town offers, and I’m proud to call it my home.


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Nicole Farrington A lifelong resident of Clifton, Nicole Farrington graduated from CHS in 2007. She lives in the Athenia section. What she likes about her hometown is its accessibility and availability. “Everything is close by,” she said. “You don’t have to go out of town for anything. We like the Village Pizza. The parks, the schools are okay.” However, she would like to see the city parks cleaner. “You go to these parks,” she said, “and everything is so dirty, garbage everywhere. Nobody really cares anymore. If I take him [referring to son Noah], I have to watch what he is picking up off the ground. But I guess that’s everywhere you go.”

Ivan Garcia Ivan Garcia is a 15-year Clifton resident living in the Albion section. He described his home as a “perfect city in the suburbs.” He explained, “I love the fact that Clifton is removed from city life, yet easily accessible.” Garcia also enjoys the parks and the many sports activities Clifton offers. “I have a large family,” he said. “As a matter of fact, I have two kids in the military—Julian Lopez is over in Pearl Harbor in the Navy, and Steven Lopez is in the Army National Guard. “Overall, it’s a pretty good school system. Taxes are a little on the high side. I understand we lost some businesses, large businesses, industries that pay taxes. Can

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John and Judy Maxwell John and Judy Maxwell are longtime Clifton residents. She’s been here for 37 years and he’s been here his entire life. The Maxwells live in the Allwood section. “I like the neighborhood that we live in,” John said. “There’s a lot of businesses and restaurants where we live in Allwood. We can walk to Styertowne—lots of places to go. “And we like the low taxes.” Judy agreed, saying she likes “everything” about Clifton. The Maxwells one beef about the city? “The traffic!” said John. we bring in more industry to help offset property taxes that have been rising quite a bit over the last several years?” Garcia would also like to see more safety around the elementary schools as children travel. “The safety for those children,” he said, “it’s almost on the wayside. Not only at our School 5, but other schools when I drive around. I see a disregard of parents. A lot of them are doing stuff like picking up their children as they walk across the street. “Some of the old rules instilled in children as we took them to school are non-existent in the last several years. That attention to detail is gone. Maybe the older educators and crossing guards… they’re getting older and not enforcing it as much.”


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Eva and Andre Janiak Residents Eva and Andre Janiak have enjoyed living in Clifton for 30 years. Their only complaint? High taxes. “I like the town because it is quiet,” said Eva. “The area where we live is really quiet. It is very safe.” “It’s comfortable,” Andre added. “We’re located by all highways, wherever you want, there’s access. “Sometimes it’s very crowded so you can go to Andre and Eva Janiak, and Alicja Koscikiewicz many other options. That’s what I like. Mostly I like it because I am a business owner in this town.” Eva believes overcrowding in the school system Andre Janiak owns Andy’s Window Tint, located at needs to be addressed. 705 Van Houten Ave., which has been serving the area “Clifton High School is very crowded,” she said. for more than 20 years. “Both my grandchildren are going to private schools As far as improving the town, Andre would like to because of the overcrowding.” see more parks geared for small children. “Because I’m a grandfather,” he said.

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Ray Hock’s lived in Clifton nearly 30 years; wife Jo has been a Clifton resident since 1977. “I like the diversity in the town,” Ray said. “I come from Pompton Lakes and it was just a small town, not much diversity. I came down here and it’s interesting. It’s always interesting. We like the restaurants in town.” Jo agreed, saying, “I like El Mexicano on Main Ave., and the Peruvian restaurant across from the Rec Center, Aji Limon. We also like the Allwood Diner.” Though the couple enjoys the diversity of food, they’d like to see more people mixing in Clifton. “I like the town being diverse,” Jo said. “But it’s almost in certain sections. I think we cut people off from really commingling. Which, I think, is wrong. “I’d like to see people not look at certain people and say they don’t belong here, something like that. I’d like to see people more inclusive.” Ray agreed. “You see a certain group of people living

Jo and Ray Hock in one area of town,” he said, “and another group living in another part. Like this area—it was always Polish. I have nothing against that but you like to see other nationalities living here, too.” The Hocks would like to see more events near Main Memorial. “The town used to do a lot of events there,” Jo said, “but they pulled back and started doing more near the City Hall section. I guess, they felt, too many people were coming from Paterson into Clifton.” As far as people from different backgrounds and nationalities mixing, Jo Hock would like to see what she experienced in her former Dutch Hill neighborhood. “I lived in Dutch Hill for quite a while,” she said. “And I liked it there. We had different nationalities and different types of people on one block. “My son grew up knowing kids. He didn’t think about them as anything different—just other children he went to school with.”

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Bill and Christine Colligan with their sons William and Brayden

Family matters to Bill and Christine Colligan. The longtime Clifton residents found that close community in the city and hope their sons have similar experiences. “We went back and forth for a few years looking at other houses,” said Christine, 39. “And we came down to—we love our neighborhood. We love what’s offered here.” Christine, who has lived in Clifton her entire life, was easy to convince. Bill, 38, moved out of the city for a few years, but a bad winter two years ago “sealed the deal” and solidified for him that Clifton was special. There were six or seven snowstorms that winter, Bill said, but he was in a neck brace and could not shovel. “I’d open the door, and everything was done,” said Bill. “And it was never the same person – John, Ricky, the guy next door, Alan.” “It’s little things,” said Bill. Walking the same halls “I was like, ‘You kind of looked familiar to me,’” laughed Christine, recalling when she and Bill met. “I had no idea,” Bill admitted, to more laughter. It was 1999 when the Clifton couple started dating. Christine graduated CHS in 1998 and Bill would graduate in ’99. Despite having mutual friends during high school, the couple only met while working at Petco in Totowa. Not even in their shared statistics class during Christine’s senior year.

Twenty years later, the couple works in the school district. Christine works at School 14 as a special education teacher for a 2nd grade class, primarily working with children on the autism spectrum. Meanwhile, Bill works in the morning in Clifton with kids who have emotional and behavioral disabilities. Then, in the afternoon, he focuses on his role as a transition coordinator, where he helps kids prepare for college, trade school or any path after CHS. The district means more today than just their place of work, though. It is also where their son William, 7, attends second grade and walks the halls of School 5 like his mother once did. William carefully considers his answer to one important question: What does he like to do at school? “Go to recess,” he declared.

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It is at recess where he jumps rope, but he is also active off the playground. William plays lacrosse, basketball and baseball. “He gets to meet people, he gets to speak to people, he gets to learn how to be social,” said Bill. There are also many options if he was not interested in sports, Christine added. Boy Scouts is one option she mentions and if that is not available, the library offers Lego classes. “And if there’s none of those, then nothing but TV!” interjected William, with a grin. The accessibility to activities is important to Bill and Christine, and it reminds them of their childhoods. Whether it was sports, the arts, or going to play in the park, they felt close with people in the community. “There were kids everywhere, and there still are,” said Bill. “There are a lot of friendly people here.”

It is something Bill understands, though. The neighborhood will do whatever it can to help each other. That can be anything from watching each other’s houses while someone is on vacation or caring for each other’s kids. Simply going outside and talking with their neighbor across the street before they had William and their younger son, Brayden, 4, informed them that their neighbor was a babysitter. “I am so comfortable leaving my kids there that I actually get upset like, ‘I don’t want to have to send them to school,’” said Christine. It’s a neighborhood that reflects the city’s willingness to lend a helping hand or offer a friendly smile as you drive across town. “This is one of the few towns I’ve been in where people genuinely take care of each other,” said Bill.

“A circle of trust” Bill and Christine’s home being about six blocks from where Christine grew up is a testament to Clifton’s community. It is an environment people do not want to leave and Christine even talks today with her mother’s neighbors. “Bill always jokes that there’s a circle of trust that I don’t want to leave,” said Christine.

Hopes for the ‘small-big-town’ “There is like a sense of pride because I grew up here,” said Christine. “I want my child to have the same opportunities that I had here, and I want it to be a great town.” So, what needs to be done to ensure that? The parents point to the Recreation Center. Despite great opportunities, Christine notes that a more centrally located Rec Center could truly benefit the city and its children. “Clifton has grown so much population-wise since that Rec Center was established years ago,” said Christine. “So, they do offer so many programs there, but again, Clifton is huge.” Bill agreed, referencing Fort Lee’s Rec Center as a prime example of a great facility. The center, he said, offers four basketball courts, classes for children and a small amphitheater. “[It’s important] just to give kids somewhere to be that’s somewhat structured,” he said. They both noted the positive changes that have already happened, including the effort put into revamping the city parks. It is the kind of effort that makes Christine proud to choose “home” as her one-word descriptor of Clifton. As for Bill, he describes the city as a “small-bigtown.” One where you can spend weekends in your neighbors backyards and attend their family parties. “We know each other very, very well,” said Bill, “and you can’t always get that everywhere you go.” By Arianna Puzzo

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Shana Rivera Relatively new to Clifton, Shana Rivera moved to the city in 2014 right after college. She lives in the Athenia section. “I love that there are so many kids around,” Rivera said about her hometown. “And I love that it is very diverse. That’s amazing to see. And then to see how all the kids get along, and everybody gets along with each other. You don’t really see that in any

Amisha and Mehul Rana Delawanna residents Amisha and Mehul Rana declined to have their photo taken but were not shy about voicing their opinions. Lack of street cleaning in Clifton was one complaint. Another, voiced loudly by Amisha, was her desire for student uniforms in city schools.

of the other towns. I think everybody here is very connected with each other.” Other positives she sees include the Boys and Girls Club. “The Boys and Girls Club is a great service,” she said. “I love that the Boys and Girls Club is open for all the kids to go in and play with each other. And I love that everything is right on Van Houten—I can walk to it.” As far as what can be improved, Rivera likes things as they are. “Nothing I’ve seen so far,” she said. “I think that everybody—especially at events like [the Van Houten Street Fair]—is together and enjoying things.”

A street fair closer to Route 3 would also be nice. As far as what the family likes about the city? “Some of the sections are very nice,” said Mehul. “Like Allwood, Delawanna and the area by Grove St. It’s a very quiet place—I love Clifton. We’ve lived here 10 years and moved from Passaic. The schools are good—better than Passaic.” “We just need uniforms,” Amisha added.

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This October, Clifton will again pay tribute to fallen Police Officer John Samra.

Honoring a Hero By Jack DeVries

Clifton Police Detective Mike Davey wants to make it clear: this article is not about him. He only agreed to be interviewed to help tell John Samra’s story and how Clifton can honor his memory and perpetuate his good work. Davey wants it known that he’s only a catalyst—a person to help start the event momentum this year, a police brother who decided to step forward. After a year absence, the “John Samra Memorial 5K Run & 1 Mile Family Walk,” presented by the Clifton PBA Local 36, returns to Clifton on Oct. 20. The Clifton Roadrunners are helping with the event. The run/walk starts and ends at City Hall with registration beginning at 7 am and race start at 8:30 am. All proceeds raised go to the John Samra Scholarship Fund. “As police officers,” said Davey, “any one of us can end up on a day where… it’s the worse day and it’s your last day.” That day came for Samra on Nov. 21, 2003. “It’s important to keep the memory going,” Davey said. “Because, really what he did was he woke up, he came to work, he got a call on the radio and he answered the call. And, at the end of the day, he didn’t come home. This is something we always talk about as police officers.” On that day, Samra was patrolling on motorcycle when he stopped a van driver for a possible seat belt violation. The van’s driver had been recently released from prison and was on parole. Instead of complying with the stop, he fled. Samra got back on his bike and pursued, but was tragically struck by the van at the corner of Maple Pl. and Washington Ave. The driver, Luis Hernandez of Passaic, was apprehended by two citizens and arrested by responding officers. He was later found guilty received a life sentence. Samra was taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson where he died from his injuries. He became the first

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Clifton Police officer to give his life in the line of duty in the city’s history, leaving behind his family, countless friends and fellow officers who would never forget him. “To me, John Samra is a hero,” Davey said. “And it’s important to keep the memories of heroes alive.” “He was special,” said retired Clifton Police Officer Ross LaCorte in an earlier interview, “one of ours. He was a ‘cop’s cop,’ and that’s the highest honor any officer can receive.” Stepping Forward Last year, because of cost, organizers decided not to hold the run/walk, which did not sit well with the department. “Some of the guys here,” said Davey, “especially some of the retired guys, were upset the event didn’t happen. Nobody was walking around the hallways cursing and hollering, but they made it known that it is something we should be doing. One of them in particular was forceful about it.” Enter retired Clifton Police Lieutenant John Burke. “John and I had this conversation,” said Davey. “The event was important to him—not just him—but to a lot of people here. It was one of those things that it takes some time and a little bit of effort. Not that I have a ton of time.” The father of three, Davey joked he and his wife Elisa are now in “zone coverage” with their parent-child ratio now in the kids’ favor. “We dropped back in zone,” laughed Davey. “We bend, but don’t break. After his conversation with Burke and agreeing to head-up the run/walk, Davey received “a ton of support” from his fellow officers. “I brought it to Nick Hriczov and Mike O’Donnell (the president and delegate of PBA Local 36). They gave me their 100 percent support. Everything I’ve asked for since, they’ve helped me with.”


Above, John Samra at St. Brendan RC School, at his 1980 CHS graduation and in his Air Force uniform. At left, Clifton Police Officer Randy Colondres at the Police Memorial in Washington D.C., placing a flag near Samra’s name. Colondres and other officers annually ride bicycles to Washington on the Police Unity Tour.

Davey expects at least 25 officers to participate in the event, many staffing traffic points along the race course. “Guys who were a part of the run in the past jumped up and said they want to help,” he said. Support from local businesses has been good. In fact, Corrado’s and Ghost Hawk Brewery have signed on as platinum level sponsors, each donating at least $1,000.

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Honoring a Hero

Mike Davey at the Police Memorial in front of City Hall.

“Everything goes toward the scholarship fund,” Davey said. “Up until the day of the event, we’re going to be looking for sponsors— big and small. We’ve had a great showing as far as the larger sponsorships go. We’ve also had a great showing with the smaller donations. “Every donation is important.” Carrying the Torch While the unassuming Davey wants all the focus on Samra, his own story makes him an ideal candidate to carry the fallen officer’s legacy forward. Davey grew up in on the south end of Bloomfield in a neighborhood near Watsessing Park. His father George is a retired Newark cop; Davey lost his mom Diane last year. After graduating from high school in 2000, he enlisted in the U.S. Marines. “I was part of 24th Expeditionary Unit,” Davey said, “and was sent to Iraq in July 2004. I was there until February 2005. My job was in radio communications.” After his tour of duty, Davey’s ex-brother-in-law tried to convince him to be a fireman, but he was set on becoming a police officer. He joined the East Orange

police force in September 2006 and was hired in Clifton in September 2007. Since 2011, he’s been part of the detective bureau. Prior to working here, Davey’s only connection to the city was playing in Clifton Stadium as a member of the Bloomfield Bengals football team. In his senior year, the running back scored three touchdowns and rushed for 126 yards in Bloomfield’s 20-7 win over the Mustangs. Since that time, he’s become a big Clifton fan. “I’m a huge history buff,” Davey said. “Throughout American history, the U.S. has been described as a melting pot. To me, Clifton is super reflective of that. There are so many different people here—good people here, living and working and trying to make a better life for themselves. And that’s great.” His appreciation of history includes John Samra. “I never worked with him,” said Davey, “and didn’t know him personally. When I first started working here, there were a lot of officers who did work with him. They always had good things to say. You never heard a negative word about him. “In time, those guys retired and now we don’t have many guys who worked with him or knew him personally. That’s one of the reasons it’s important to keep this event going… so we don’t forget our past.” In the coming weeks, Davey plans to reach out to the Samra family to learn more about the fallen officer. “John Samra,” he said, “is a very important part of our department’s history.” To learn more about becoming a race sponsor, write to Mike Davey at samra5k@cliftonpba36.com.

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Pledged to Protect Chief Frank Prezioso reminds all to be vigilant During Fire Safety Month. By Jack DeVries Fire Chief Frank Prezioso knows his job. Prezioso is charged with leading a force of 143 firefighters and 10 civilians that make up seven Clifton companies, operating out of six stations. Along with the police department and other city workers, he and his department are responsible for the safety of the city’s 80,000-plus residents. Being fire chief is a role he’s moved toward since joining Clifton’s Fire Department in 1995. “Becoming a fire chief,” Prezioso admitted, “is grueling. To become any fire department officer, it’s competitive and means a lot of time away from your family. I never gave up—I just kept moving forward.” After serving two years as deputy chief, he replaced Chief Kevin McCarthy this year, who retired after a 33year career. And, while Clifton is not Prezioso’s hometown, there is no doubt where his heart is. “I’m probably the first non-resident fire chief that didn’t grow up in the City of Clifton,” Prezioso said. “But I care about the city as much as I would have if I did. “This city has provided me with a very good career and provided my family with a very good life. I’ve al-

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ways respected this city and never disrespected it. When I wear that uniform, I wear it with pride and distinction.” Serving the Clifton community is not an easy job. While some cities have a few main roads and similar types of buildings, Clifton is unique. “There are four major highways that run through the town, traveled by thousands and thousands people every day,” Prezioso said. “We have many different types of structures—from suburban to urban. You have bigger homes on Grove St., and there are more urban areas, like Botany Village, where houses and buildings are right next to each other or separated by an alley. “What’s also different is we have an EMS service, which is very busy. This year, we went from two ambulances to three ambulances full-time. Every firefighter in the City of Clifton is trained to the Firefighter I, Firefighter II level, and is also an EMT.” In 2018, Prezioso said Clifton fielded 12,333 calls. “That’s a lot for a paid fire department,” he said. Another challenge are the city’s malls and housing communities built during the past few decades. “It’s a busy city,” Prezioso emphasized.


Hudson County Beginnings Prezioso’s family came from another busy area. His father Sergio was born and raised in Hoboken; his mother Anna Rose hailed from Weehawken. After marrying, they moved to North Bergen near the border of Jersey City and Union City, where Frank and brother Vito grew up. Prezioso played some sports as a boy but his passion was hunting. At age 5, he remembers going hunting with his father and walking through the woods. When he got older, Prezioso wanted to be a police officer. “My father was a North Bergen letter carrier for 33 years,” Prezioso said. “He was also a store detective, a plain clothes security guard, for Sears Roebuck in Union City and Jersey City for 25 years. He worked long hours and wasn’t around a lot. “I didn’t want that. I wanted a good job where I could be around my family and do things I wanted to do.” A friend’s father was a North Bergen firefighter and Prezioso accompanied the family to department picnics. “Once I was around other firemen,” he said, “and a few of my friends became firefighters in North Bergen, I became interested. It was a solid job with lots of time off to go hunting and fishing.” He would become his family’s first firefighter. While Prezioso might have been attracted to the job’s flexibility, once he joined the Clifton Fire Dept. on Oct. 20, 1995, he became very interested in fire service. “When I became a fireman,” he said, “I worked like a maniac. I became a fire instructor and went to a tremendous amount of classes because there weren’t many things at the fire department that you would be taught. You learned on the job. There wasn’t a lot of learning facilities available unless you went to the fire academy. “I devoted my life to knowing my job and making sure I was good at it. I never wanted to be the weak link.” Like all firefighters, Prezioso was impacted by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Two of his friends, Port Authority cops, died that day. “I was over there that Thursday night for about 8-9 hours at the pile with 40 other firefighters,” he said. “It was very difficult. It’s still difficult today—I haven’t been over there since. I still have a stack of pictures given to me that I haven’t gone through yet. “The time we put in was a drop in the bucket compared to the time and effort members of the FDNY put in, as well as other departments”. Looking to “step up and learn,” Prezioso began following the direction of other Clifton firefighters. Cliftonmagazine.com • October 2019 

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Pledged to Protect “They were people like Deputy Chiefs Craig Hopkins and Ryan Fitzsimmons, and Captain Dan Collins, and retirees like Lieutenant John Anderson, Deputy Chief Michael Allora and former Chief Kevin McCarthy. “They’re the ones who guided and pointed me in the right direction. They’d say, ‘We’re going to a class—do you want to go?’ They always invited me. “I wanted to make sure I knew my job. If somebody needed to depend on me to rescue them and save their life, I better know how to do it. I feel that way today.” Outside of work, Prezioso married his wife Kim, whom he met at North Bergen High School. The couple have two sons (pictured from left) Salvatore, 20, and Dominic, 17, and live in Newton, N.J. As far as his leadership style as chief, Prezioso said: “People can expect I’m going to be firm, fair and honest—I can’t say it any better. That’s who I am. And I’m very open to ideas.” Think Safety October is Fire Safety Month and Prezioso has important tips for residents. “What people can do,” he said, “is ensure their fire extinguishers are up-to-date, properly tagged and inspected. They should also invert the extinguisher every month. What happens is the chemical inside that fire extinguisher gets hard—similar to leaving flour in your pantry for a long period of time. “When the extinguisher is turned upside down, it breaks it up. If you need that fire extinguisher, it’ll work much better than if it was left with a solid mass inside.”

The chief also says having fire alarm systems inspected is important, as is changing batteries every six months in battery-operated smoke detectors. “People should also refrain from using candles— they cause a tremendous amount of fires. Be aware of kids operating stoves or playing with matches. And a lot of people are vaping now—those are heated devices. They need to be careful—if it’s hot, it can burn a building down.” He also reminds residents of two simple actions that can make a big difference. “Anytime you go into a building,” Prezioso said, “make sure there is another way out. Everyone during a fire or emergency is going to flee through the door they came in. Always be aware of another exit. “Finally, to help firefighters, stay out of the way on the road. Give them the proper leeway if you see them coming down the street. If you’re crossing the street and see an apparatus coming, get out of the roadway. “They’re responding to save someone’s life or protect somebody’s building. Ask yourself, how many times in your life have you called 911? When somebody calls 911, it’s bad.”

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Frank Prezioso became fire chief on Jan. 1, the 11th person to hold that title since the Clifton Fire Department was established on July 16, 1918. Prezioso joined the department on Oct. 20, 1995.

Frank Prezioso Jan. 1, 2019 Current

Kevin McCarthy Jan. 15, 2016 Jan. 1, 2019

Vincent Colavitti Jr. Nov. 14, 2011 Dec. 31, 2015

Joe Verderosa Nov. 26, 2009 Jan. 1, 2011

John E. Dubravsky Jan. 1, 1997 Dec. 31, 2008

Walter DeGroot Feb. 11, 1985 Jan. 1, 1997

Joseph Colca Nov. 12, 1980 May 1, 1985

Stephen J. Lendl June 20, 1965 Jan. 1, 1981

Romolo Zangrando April 1, 1960 June 18, 1965

John Zanet Dec. 30, 1930 March 16, 1960

Adam Ritter Aug. 21, 1918 Aug. 11, 1930

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Plan and Practice Your Escape. That is the theme for the 2019 Fire Prevention message. October is Fire Safety Month and the Clifton Fire Safety Coloring & Activity Book for Kids is once again available. The booklet is published at no cost to the taxpayers as members of Clifton FMBA 21, Tomahawk Promotions, Clifton Merchant Magazine and a variety of local businesses and schools, which are listed below, have banded together to pay for the booklet’s printing and support city fire prevention efforts. The activity and coloring book is designed for kids, grade 3 and younger, and urges families to check the dates on their smoke alarms and contains other helpful fire prevention tips. During October, Clifton firefighters will visit local public and private schools to talk about fire safety and distribute the booklets. In case you did not get a copy, the Clifton Fire Proud to serve the Clifton, Passaic &Safety Nutley Police & FireBook Departments Coloring & Activity for Kids booklets are also available by calling 973-470-5801. • Domestics/Foreign • Light/Medium Trucks • Automatic/Manual • Antiques & Classics • Clifton FMBA 21 Members • Mr. Cupcakes • Paramus Catholic High School • Commercial Fleets • 4 Wheel Drive Service • The Apprehensive Clutches Patient • Shook Funeral Home • Carl Zoecklein, Esq.& more • Differentials, • A/C Systems • State Farm Agent Thomas Tobin • Valley National Bank • Coldwell Banker Call 45 Atlantic Way • State Farm Agent Bill Eljouzi • Athenia Veterans Post Members • P & A Auto • Corradino & Papa, LLC • Boys Club of Clifton (790 Bloomfield Ave)• Assemblyman Thomas Giblin ask for& Girls Mark or Brian • Tenafly Pediatrics • Downtown • Clifton IHOP Present this ad and Clifton save $100 off any overhaul • The New Bairn School • North Jersey Fed. Credit Union • Clifton Merchant Magazine

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On Sept. 14, St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital partnered with Paterson Fire Department Chief Brian McDermott, Paterson Police Department Chief Troy Oswald and members of the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office for a Life-Shaving Event to raise awareness of pediatric cancer and sickle cell disease More than 85 people went bald for a cause. Pictured above are the hospital officials, police officers and firefighters who came out to support the cause. At right is one of the officers who took the close shave, thanks to the volunteer work of Casey Melvin whose barbershop, Simply the Best, has been a fixture in the community for 24 years.

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Clifton’s September 11 ceremony at City Hall is set among nearly 2,000 American flags and nine World Trade Center flags—one for each of nine individuals from Clifton who lost their lives on 9/11/01. They are Zuhtu Ibis, Kyung Cho, Francis Joseph Trombino, Ehtesham U. Raja, Edward C. Murphy, Edgar H. Emery, Port Authority Officer John Skala and brothers John and Tim Grazioso. The solemn ceremony is held annually at 9 am. Visitors can tour the grounds to take in the magnificent patriotic display on the campus.

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The Clifton Veterans Parade is Nov. 3 and the theme is, “Saluting All Veterans, Past and Present,” which organizer Keith Oakley said fits with the 2019 celebration. “This year,” he said, “there was no anniversary to tie to the Veterans Parade, like last year’s 100-year Armistice Day anniversary. Instead, we wanted to be inclusive and recognize all veterans equally.” The parade begins at the intersection of Huron and Van Houten Aves. and continues to the Avenue of Flags at City Hall. Every flag honors a veteran. This year, more than 2,000 flags will fly proudly. “The Veterans Day speaker is Tony Latona, who is a good choice,” said Oakley. “A member of the Air Force and later the Air National Guard, Tony has served five tours in places like Rwanda, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Afghanistan.” Latona is also a Clifton firefighter who has spent more than 20 years in military service since graduating Clifton High in 1992.

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Mike Gimon is the Veterans Parade’s grand marshal. “Mike served in the Army and is commander of Post 347,” said Oakley. “He has done a lot for the veterans.” Gimon served stateside from 1960 to 1963. He was a member of a secret unit that worked on war problems and remembers seeing the Army’s first “Huey” helicopter, 55 years ago. “When they told me I was grand marshal,” said Gimon, a member of Post 347 for 31 years, “I couldn’t believe it. There are much more worthy veterans that they could have chosen. But I’m elated. It’s such an honor to represent all the past, present and future veterans.” Gimon said Clifton does a good job supporting veterans, with efforts like the Avenue of Flags and sending donated packages through Clifton Cares. “Don’t forget the Key Club and ROTC who help with the packing,” he said. To march or be a parade sponsor, contact Oakley for details at 201-774-6666 or oaknuts26@aol.com.


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Peace Islands Institute marked the Feast of Sacrifice, the oldest Islamic holidays in Turkey, by donating 100 pounds of lamb to St. Peter’s Haven food pantry. Accepting the donation, from left, are Lolita Cruz; Tara Norman; Adam Ozdemir; Asm. Thomas P. Giblin; Savas Metin, Keith Donough, executive director of St. Peter’s Haven; and Asw. Britnee Timberlake.

The 5th Annual Fred Torres Memorial 5K takes place Oct. 13 at Garret Mountain Reservation, starting at 9:30 am. Race proceeds go to the Fred Torres Memorial Fund, supporting the Clifton Mustangs Summer Track Camp held at CHS Stadium, and the Fred Torres Memorial Scholarship, presented each year to outstanding CHS senior student athletes in cross country and track & field. Fee is $30. Register at runsignup.com. The race honors Fred Torres, a dedicated runner who suffered a heart attack on Jan. 20, 2014, while jogging with colleagues. The late Fred Torres at right with family: wife Anna at left, and their kids Brian and Jessica.

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Clifton’s Annual Halloween Parade & HarvestFest is Oct. 27, rain or shine. The site is changed to the City Hall campus and details are being worked out, but all the fun stuff will be there. The parade will begin at 12:45 pm led by the costumed Marching Mustangs. There will be floats and costumed characters of all ages. Step-off will be on Van Houten Ave. (exact site to be determined). The parade will go into the City Hall campus, where judges will evaluate the entrants. HarvestFest continues until 4:30 pm with games and rides costing between a quarter and a dollar. Also on tap: pumpkin painting, scarecrow stuffing, shopping and more. Visit the Petting Zoo or take a hayride. Food prices will vary. The 20th Annual Apple Pie Baking Contest will return and participants can register their pies for the competition between 1 and 1:30 pm, when judging begins. Prizes will be awarded to bakers of the top three pies submitted. Prizes include gift certificates to local grocery stores. Consolation gifts will be issued for all non-winning entries. Plan ahead and pre-purchase $5 bags of tokens with special pricing, beginning Oct. 11. Volunteers and vendors are needed and welcomed. For more info, such as parade starting location, email cliftonrec@cliftonnj.org or call them at 973-470-5956.

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THIS MONTH The Theater League of Clifton will present the musical “Oliver.” In this adaptation based on the Charles Dickens novel, 9-year-old orphan Oliver Twist falls in with a group of street-urchin pickpockets led by the Artful Dodger and masterminded by the criminal Fagin. The show opens Nov. 8 at the Theresa Aprea Theater, 199 Scoles Ave., and will continue on Nov. 9, 10, 15, 16, and 17. For tickets, go to theaterleagueofclifton.com or call 973-928-7668.

CHS Class of 1974’s 45th Reunion is Nov. 29 at 6 pm at The Mountainside Inn, 509 Hazel St. Contact Karen at karzay@echoes.net or text/call 570-460-0405. CHS Class of 1969 reunion, begins Oct. 25 with a 3:30 pm tour of CHS. Other events include dinner at the Hot Grill, attending a Mustangs football game and miniature golf. The weekend culminates with a buffet dinner from 5:30 pm to 10 pm at the Double Tree by Hilton in Fairfield. Register: reunions-unlimited.com. CHS Class of 1999 has its 20th reunion Oct. 5 at 6:30 pm at The Barnyard and Carriage House in Totowa. Tickets must be purchased in advance and will include open bar and dinner. Email CHSNJ99@gmail.com to purchase tickets or for details. CHS Class of 1970 seeks info on classmates, such as mailing addresses and phone numbers. Ann Marie Ayers-Williams is planning the 50th reunion on Oct. 11, 2020. Write to clifton1970reunion@gmail.com. Chow Call for Veterans! On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, Hot Bagels Abroad, located at 859 Clifton Ave., will offer a free meal and beverage to active duty service members, military veterans, as well as police officers and firefighters, from 5 am to 4 pm. “It’s a way for us to say thanks and show support,” said owner Steve Mao.

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There’s an exciting new swing available on a trial basis at Nash Park and Holster Park called the “Reflections SelfieSwing.” The Clifton Recreation Department is working with Play & Park Structures to field test the swing. This patent-pending design allows parents to swing face-to-face with their child and capture photos and video, hands-free with their phone. Test out the swing at either park and email one of your selfie photos to the Rec Dept. at doliver@cliftonnj.


Angels of Animals Inc. is a Clifton-based non-profit dedicated to the rescue of injured, abused, and medically challenged homeless animals. Their Annual Tricky Tray is at the Grand Bethwood on Oct. 17. All proceeds go to their Veterinary Care Fund, providing lifesaving care to animals in desperate need. The evening includes a four-course dinner, basket raffles, 50/50, and more. Tickets are $55. Purchase online or by mail. Visit angelsofanimals.org. Friends of the Clifton Public Library present a series of Operalogues conducted by Ed Perretti of the NJ State Opera at the Clifton Main Library at Piaget and Third Aves. Staged at 1 to 3 pm, the productions are free and open to the public. The series opens with Macbeth on Oct. 7, followed by Il Tabarro by Puccini on Oct. 28.

The series continues Nov. 4 with a selection of arias and Nov. 18 with a potpourri of duets. Info: 973-772-5500. A Harvest Fest at St. Brendan & St. George Church will be held Oct. 19 from 10 am to 3 pm at the corner of Crooks and Lakeview Aves. Pumpkins, mums, cornstalks, scarecrows and refreshments will be sold. There will also be games and activities for children. Entry is free.

St. Peter’s Episcopal and Nueva Vida Free Methodist Churches offers a Blessing of the Animals at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, 380 Clifton Ave., on Oct. 6 at 4 pm. Animals of all species may attend as long as they are with well-trained humans!

St. Brendan & St. George Church will also host a welcome gathering for Fr. Jesus Peralta Oct. 11 at 6 pm in the church hall at 154 East 1st Street. All are welcome and refreshments will be served. RSVP to Kathy at 972-772-1115 by Oct. 9. Come meet the new pastor and learn more about the combined parish and church community.

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ST. JOSEPH’S St. Joseph’s Health, a world-class hospital and healthcare network, and Hackensack Meridian Health, New Jersey’s largest and most comprehensive and integrated health network, announced Sept. 26 the formation of a clinical and strategic partnership which will deepen their commitment to deliver innovative, high-quality and cost-effective care throughout Bergen and Passaic counties. “This is an exciting step in the history of St. Joseph’s Health,” said Kevin J. Slavin, president and CEO at St. Joseph’s Health. “After a comprehensive search to find just the right partner who would support our Catholic roots and philosophy, while at the same time embrace our commitment to the communities of Announcing the strategic partnership, from left, are Hackensack northern New Jersey, we are delighted to join Meridian Health’s Robert C. Garrett and Gordon Litwin, and St. Jowith Hackensack Meridian Health in this forseph’s Health’s Sister Marilyn Thie and Kevin J. Slavin. ward-thinking collaboration.” “St. Joseph’s Health and Hackensack Meridian Health. “We’re excited to enter into a partnership ridian Health are natural partners who share a common with a first-class healthcare network like St. Joseph’s mission and culture—increasing access to high-qualiHealth. “This partnership will transform healthcare in ty, affordable care to the communities we serve,” said New Jersey and provide more residents access to the Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, CEO of Hackensack Memost advanced treatments.”

NJFCU’s 9th Business Summit on Nov. 6 in Totowa

North Jersey FCU President/CEO, Lourdes Cortez with officers of the 2018 NJFCU Community Spirit Award Winners Contempo Plaza.

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North Jersey Federal Credit Union is hosting its 9th Business Summit on Nov. 6. The event is designed to link credit union members with business owners and entrepreneurs. Typically, guests discuss tips on getting ahead of the competition and share effective business practices and strategies. “We created the event as a way to promote our business products and services,” explained James Giffin, NJFCU’s VP of marketing. “We found that many do not know what a credit union offers and most did not know the extent of services offered— more precisely, that we offer all the services that a business may need.” The summit, he added, also offers an opportunity to help other businesses to promote their services in a “relaxed networking environment.” Admission is free to the event, held from 6 to 8 pm at 711 Union Blvd., Totowa. For more details go to njfcu.org.


Clifton’s Dennis and Diane Burszan travel “smart.” And by smart, that means covering miles in an environmentally responsible way. On Sept. 21, the couple drove their electric vehicles to a National Drive Electric Week event in Pleasantville, N.Y. They displayed each of their electric cars— a 2018 Tesla Model 3, driven 17,000 miles, and 2013 Smart Electric Drive with 47,000 miles—and let people sit inside and explained the merits of electric travel. “We’ve driven over 64,000 combined miles on electricity,” said Dennis. “Almost all our charging is done at home. It’s rare we need to charge away from home.”

The Smart car is charged every second or third day for 3-4 hours; the Tesla gets a weekly charge for 4-8 hours. “Mostly we charge at night,” said Dennis, “when the electric company has spare power—the same as running our dishwasher on a delayed cycle.” The couple’s fuel costs averages about $4 cents a mile versus $10-11 cents on their gas car. “We quickly got used to saving money,” Dennis said, “by passing all the gas stations.” To learn more about electric vehicles, try and catch up with Dennis and Diane Burszan here in town or go to driveelectricweek.org. The Young at Heart Club meets the first and third Wednesday of each month at the Masonic Lodge, 1476 Van Houten Ave. Refreshments are at 11 am followed by a noon meeting. Call 973-779-5581. Upcoming events include Nov. 4, Camp Hope, and a Dec. 13 Christmas Party at Mountainside Inn.

The Clifton Republican Club hosted its second Wine & Food Pairing Dinner on Sept. 25 at the new Bucco’s Restaurant in Bloomfield. The sold-out event welcomed Republican supporters from throughout Passaic and Essex County, and featured four different courses, each served with a hand-selected wine to perfectly pair with the food. “The wine selection was amazing and Bucco’s outdid itself with the food,” said event organizer, Gerard Scorziello. “Everyone who attended has had nothing but great things to say. We are already looking forward to next year.”

Clifton Cares volunteers remind readers that a shipment will go to our troops soon. To contribute to the shipment, drop off items at the bins at City Hall. Since each package costs $18.45 to ship, checks are much appreciated. Make payable to Clifton Cares Inc. and mail to Clifton City Hall, 900 Clifton Ave., Clifton, NJ 07013. Donations are tax deductible. Call Dona Crum at 973-881- 7295 or Chris Liszner at 973-650-2719 with questions. Cliftonmagazine.com • October 2019 

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With help from Clifton Clean Communities, the DPW & Crews of Clifton Kids, Two Artists Transform Tunnels into Positive Messages for Our Community Commuters, school kids and about 1,500 vehicles per day get the positive environmental messages CHS Senior May Yuasa had in mind when she proposed her art mural for the Route 46 underpass on Lakeview Ave. Same thing for Eagle Scout candidate Jeffrey Fay. The PCTI senior transformed the Route 46 tunnel which leads to Christopher Columbus Middle School from dark and dank into an inviting and brightly colored walkway. Both invested months of time to make their projects a reality. They wrote to city officials last winter. After receiving the initial go-ahead from the city manager, they went out to raise funds or sought donations to help pay for supplies while enlisting teams of volunteers. Support from the city primarily came through the DPW and the Clean Communities grant. This past March and April, Department of Public Works Director Jason Van Winkle said his crews power washed and then whitewashed the CCMS tunnel and the arch under the Route 46 bridge. “The project as May and Jeff proposed really fell into two categories: Graffiti Abatement and Beautification,” Van Winkle said. “This is a proactive approach. These kids converted what was a wide open and inviting blank canvas into a beautiful mural. The community loves what they did and takes pride in the change.”

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So do the artists. “With the increase of youth participation toward the climate strike, I wanted an environmental design to inspire people to take action,” wrote Yuasa. “I decided to use bright and bold colors to catch people’s attention on the street. I had the slogans, ‘Be Kind to The Earth’ and ‘Change Starts With You.’ “I pass by the finished mural almost everyday and it warms my heart to think that I may have contributed something good to the community.” Fay, who documented his work as part of his candidacy for Eagle Scout with Troop 22, remembered the dingy tunnel and its lewd graffiti from when he was a CCMS student. He wanted to provide an appropriate message for kids to get to and from school. “Many colors were used to help prevent future graffiti,” he wrote. “One wall’s message is ‘You are Loved’ with two arms coming together to form a heart. The opposite wall has overlapping hearts of different colors and states, ‘You Are Brave’ and ‘You Are Strong.’” Both artists found the project to be inspirational. For Fay, he learned how to be an effective public speaker. Yuasa hopes it will lead to more beautification projects. “We want to hopefully build a mural team for Clifton to continue painting murals in other areas and underpasses,” she said.


May Yuasa had a team of 30 volunteers, including “very supportive friends Andrea Dubbels, Alina Sucharski and Arantxa Martinez who went the extra mile to help me.”

Jeffrey Fay’s team included his mom Jennifer, his sister Mariah, friends Alexandra and Nikolaus LeSoine, fellow scouts Krish Modi and Vedansh Shah along with Assistant Troop 22 Scout Master Dennis Burzan.

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20 Annual Tattoo Enjoy a Wintery Mix of Moving Music on Nov. 9 th

Mix in the Marching Mustangs with the West Milford Highlander Band and what do you get? A Wintery Mix of tradition, community and musical excellence at the 20th Annual West Milford Highlander Marching Band Bagpipe Concert and Tattoo. For two decades, the Highlander Tattoo has become a must-see moving musical showcase of band precision, bagpipe glory and drum excellence. The Tattoo has also become a way for the Mustangs and Highlanders to see and hear different genres of music and to connect with high school musicians from the region. This indoor musical showcase of West Milford High School’s bag piping bands, drum corps and the high-stepping Marching Mustangs, among others, is on Saturday, Nov. 9, 6:30 pm at West Milford High School, 67 Highlander Drive, West Milford. Doors open at 5:15 pm and advance tickets range from $10 to $20 while kids under age 4 enter free. At the door, tickets are $20 for seniors and $25 for adults. To purchase tickets, visit wmhighlanderband.com or mail checks to WMBPA, PO Box 603, West Milford, NJ 07480. The Claddagh Pipe Band, Clan Na Vale, the Colonial Musketeers and others to be named will also perform. Funds raised help support the Highlander Marching Band and their April trip to England and Scotland.

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Ready to perform at the Tattoo: Drum Majors Marie Parkin, Amanda Bilek and Ben McLaughlin. Top of page are the Highlander Pipers and, at right, are the Highlander seniors.


The word Tattoo dates to the 17th century British Army. Drummers marched through town to inform soldiers to return to their barracks. Their beats were doe den tap toe (old Dutch for “turn off the tap”) instructing innkeepers to stop serving beer and send soldiers back to barracks. Highlanders Director Dr. Brian McLaughlin explained that their theme, “Wintery Mix,” opens with the classic Carol of the Bells followed by Snow Caps and Winter Song to musically celebrate the serene nature of the season. “Next, a little hip hop with Ice Ice Baby to show off the percussion section. The show concludes with a Stormworks movement because no winter story can be mentioned without the inclusion of an aggressive winter storm.” The Marching Mustangs perform their 2019 score on the gym floor, and will join the Highlanders and other bands for a grand finale with a salute to America’s veterans.

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Amelia Wysoczanski, Jessica Rubio, Joshua Duran, Karla Carazas.

October has arrived for Mustangs of the Month.

The vice principals from each Clifton High wing have spotlighted four students who have gotten a head start on the latest activities on the campus, one from each grade. Joshua Duran, Senior Joshua Duran is focusing on a unique career as an adult. That’s to be expected because the senior is also a unique student. “I definitely want to attend college,” Duran said. “I would love to do something that’s a mix of the medical field and technology, such as a medical appliance technician or a cardiovascular technologist. I love to help people and, at the same time, enjoy the benefit of the technology.” A member of the Pre-Med and ERASE Clubs, Duran’s favorite subjects are English and anatomy. “I love the ability to write down my thoughts and turn them into a story,” he said. “But the amount I’ve learned from anatomy and physiology was incredibly useful and something I thoroughly enjoyed.” For inspiration, he looks to his father. “In my eyes,” Duran said, “he’s a hero—from the military to the Clifton P.D. He works so hard and puts so much dedication into what he does.” Duran also cites the positive influence of his CHS teachers, like freshman science teachers Mrs. Ploch and Mr. Rando for always being there and providing advice, and Mrs. Rubin for being willing to talk and shaping his writing skills. “Mrs. Carofine,” added Duran, “has also shown me nothing but hard work and dedication to what she does, as well as truly caring for each student. “The teachers at CHS have done a fantastic job, and I thank them.”

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Jessica Rubio, Junior For Jessica Rubio, studying various subjects at CHS has given her a great degree of knowledge. Learning to balance her studies with sports and music is another important skill she’s developed. A three-sport athlete in varsity soccer, and indoor and outdoor track, Rubio is a member of the orchestra where she plays cello. “These activities take up a lot of time,” she said, “and, through the years, I figured out how to handle everything.” English is her favorite classroom subject. “I enjoy reading different genres,” said Rubio, who is thinking of studying communications in college. “I like analyzing books and finding deeper meanings.” But it is in science where she met her most influential teacher. “Ms. Such,” said Rubio, “has had the patience to go over examples multiple times. She made sure her students understood the material. Ms. Such taught her students how and why things work, making chemistry easier.” At home, Rubio draws inspiration from family. “My older sisters,” she said, “are hardworking and never give up. They inspire me to do my best and are good role models. We spend a lot of time together and are best friends.” Karla Carazas, Sophomore Karla Carazas embodies what it means to be a student. Take her favorite subject, English. Though admittedly she is “not the best in that subject,” Carazas is focused on excelling.


Her determination to succeed comes from her mom. “My mother has always inspired me the most,” said Carazas. “She is the person who pushes me to the limit. She never lets me give up. For that, I want to thank her for raising me the way in which she did.” She’s also grateful for the guidance of her teachers, Ms. Massa and Ms. Gordon, who helped her adapt to CHS, and especially to Mr. Radler, “who made me the person I am today,” Carazas said. “He would always make sure that I understood what he had taught. Because of that, I am grateful.” In the future, Carazas hopes to be part of the Bergen Academy. “I would definitely like to take advantage of the opportunity that CHS has to offer,” she said.

performing in front of other people, which is something I really needed to work on.” Wysoczanski recently started on the stage crew for the fall play, Rumors. She hopes to join the spring musical stage crew, as well as the Mock Trial and Forensic Clubs, and maybe the Academic Decathlon. Coming to CHS from St. Philip Preparatory School was definitely a big change for Wysoczanski. To help her adjustment, she leaned on friends Kaylee Miller and Mary Claire Davey. “We’ve been friends since third grade,” she said, “and we stuck together till high school. I [also] managed to be successful with this change by putting myself out there, making friends and focusing on my work.” Wysoczanski is currently enrolled in the Career Academy: Law and Public Safety. “In the future,” she said, “I want to work in the psychology field.”

Amelia Wysoczanski, Freshman For inspiration, Amelia Wysoczanski looks to singer Freddie Mercury. “I grew up listening to Queen,” she said. “When I found out his story and everything he went through, I was inspired. Freddie Mercury went through so much during his life, and I learned from him that if something doesn’t go my way to never give up on it.” Wysoczanski’s favorite class is drama with Ms. Poggi, her most influential teacher. “There’s not a moment in the class where we aren’t doing something that isn’t interesting,” she said. “In her drama class, she showed us how to be comfortable while

Correction: “Please be advised that the comment regarding drama between the CHS Mustang Marching Band Drum Majorette finalists in last month’s issue is not based in fact,” wrote Marching Mustang Band Director Bryan Stepneski. “You incorrectly assumed the dynamic between these two students and therefore the statement was inaccurate and irrelevant. The Mustang Band is proud of all three members who tried out for the position this season.”

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Birthdays & Celebrations - October 2019

Happy Birthday to.... Send dates & names .... tomhawrylko@optonline.net Sarah Bekheet................... 10/1 Melissa Szwec................... 10/2 Awilda Gorman................. 10/3 Ashley Messick.................. 10/3 Christopher Papademetriou.10/3 Charlene Rivera................. 10/3 Grace Robol...................... 10/3 Frank Antoniello................. 10/4 John Brock Jr..................... 10/4 Kimberly Ferrara................ 10/4 Kayla Galka...................... 10/4 Lisa Junda......................... 10/4 Alan Merena..................... 10/4 Bruce Merena.................... 10/4 Rosalie D. Konopinski......... 10/5 Kyle Takacs....................... 10/5 Gene D’Amico................... 10/6 Nicole Nettleton................ 10/6 Joseph Tahan..................... 10/6 Cheryl Cafone................... 10/7 Christopher Phillips............. 10/7 Jilian Fueshko.................... 10/8 Nick Kacmarcik................. 10/8 Kim Oeffler....................... 10/8 Michael Biondi................ 10/10 Rich Montague................ 10/10 Kyle Zlotkowski................ 10/10 Eileen Patterson............... 10/11 Anthony Shackil............... 10/11 Susan and Ray Cramer will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary on Oct. 1. Steve and Barbara Bivaletz celebrated 41 years of marriage on Sept. 30.

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Happy 15th birthday to Noel Coronel on Oct 16. Our favorite retired Clifton cop Edward Holster celebrates on Oct. 18. Kim Oeffler has a birthday on Oct. 8. Michael D. Rice............... 10/12 Stephanie M. Palomba..... 10/13 Kimberly Beirne............... 10/14 Lil Geiger........................ 10/14 Mary Anne Kowalczyk..... 10/14 Andrea Kovalcik.............. 10/15 Stephen Kovalcik............. 10/15 Marianne Meyer.............. 10/15 Noel Oliver..................... 10/16 Noel Coronel.................. 10/16 Nicole Zlotkowski............ 10/16 Benjamin Brody............... 10/17 Nancy Hromchak............. 10/17 Devin DeVries.................. 10/18 Matthew Fabiano............. 10/18

Edward Holster, Sr........... 10/18 Jamie Norris.................... 10/18 Brian James Grace........... 10/19 Kristen A. Hariton............ 10/19 Ben Brody....................... 10/19 Joan Bednarski................ 10/20 Jean Chiariello................. 10/20 Lea Dziuba...................... 10/20 Pactrick M. Doremus Jr...... 10/21 Eugene Osmak................ 10/21 Nathaniel Santelli............ 10/21 Katelyn Smith.................. 10/21 Ted Guzowski.................. 10/21 Jonathan Rossman............ 10/22 Toni Van Blarcom............. 10/22


Maxwell Alexander son on Adam and Stephanie Yoda (Stephanie Peterson, CHS 2001) turned two on Sept. 30. Daniel Atoche.................. 10/23 Andrew J. “Dez“ Varga.... 10/23 Allison Beirne.................. 10/24 Sandra Kuruc.................. 10/24 Heather Fierro................. 10/24 Paul G. Andrikanich......... 10/25 Matthew McGuire............ 10/26 Kristofer Scotto................ 10/27 Nicole Keller................... 10/28 Ashley Gretina................. 10/29 Lindsay Berberich............. 10/30 Hadeel Aref.................... 10/31 Raymond Romanski.......... 10/31 Josef Schmidt................... 10/31 Happy birthday to Russell Kay Carey who was born Nov. 23,1929 and is a long time resident in Allwood from his son Russ in Eugene, Ore. Congratulations to Orest and Barbara Luzniak who celebrate their 39th anniversary on Oct. 1. Cliftonmagazine.com • October 2019 

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LAST CALL Clifton lost an original on Sept. 29 when Skip Kazer passed away. The owner of the iconic tavern, The Clif, located at 605 Clifton Ave., was a longtime staple in the community and known for his Zen-like approach to life and love of his city and customers. In a 2007 interview, Kazer said about his bar, “This is a place where you can relax, unwind from the day’s stress and make new friends. I’ve even had couples meet here, fall in love and marry. You can also come to watch a ball game and cheer on your favorite team.” It was in that article we dubbed him “The Guru of Brew” due indeed to his practice of yoga, meditation and his signature phrase “Peace and Love.” The Clif is over 100 years old and was once the Aquackanonk Hotel. The bar is instantly recognizable by the large gable tower atop the building. As was Kazer with his lanky build, constant motion and lots of posts on FB about his yoga destinations.

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Skip was a vegan, who quit drinking a few years back and attended yoga and Pranic healing classes. “If you’re looking for advice or you just want to get something off your chest, I’m here to help,” Skip said about his role at The Clif. “That’s just a small part of the services that I provide here.” Over the years, many patrons did come to the dimly-lit bar, long on character and full of atmosphere. They also came to The Clif to sit on the front steps to watch the Fourth of July fireworks at Clifton Stadium. Before taking over The Clif, Kazer owned Knuckleheads on Van Houten Ave. (now Clifton City Tavern Mexican Cantina) and worked in landmarks such as Rendezvous and Al’s Place. “These were places,” he said in 2007, “that guys could go and have a bite to eat going in or out of work.” Sadly, Kazer’s work is now done. He will be missed by Lefty, his family, friends and his city. Rest in Peace and Love, Skip.


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Clifton Merchant Magazine - October 2019  

Clifton Merchant Magazine - October 2019